Business community greets Trump, urges to help boost bilateral trade

Salim Ahmed

Lahore—Founder Chairman Pak-US Business Council, veteran trade leader and Chairman United Business Group Mr. Iftikhar Ali Malik Wednesday felicitating Donald Trump for his electoral victory, said Pakistan business community has the pleasure of extending its warm congratulations to Donald Trump on his election as president of the United States of America and urged him to play a leading role in issues such as boosting the economy, solving climate change and improving relations with the developing countries especially Pakistan.
Mr. Iftikhar Ali Malik said that it is new era and we hope that newly elected president of USA will acknowledge and appreciate Pakistan’s sincere efforts and colossal sacrifices in the war against terrorism. He said that the United States was an important partner of Pakistan in all areas especially in the spheres of economy, defence and counter-terrorism. He said that Pakistan looked at its relations with the US ‘as a partnership’ which was in the interest of the two countries, the region and the world.
He further said Donald Trump will understand the role of Muslims shaping the modern America who were part of the US from its very beginnings. He said Trump by giving Muslims the honour of serving America would follow this American principle that a person did not have to be of a certain religion or have a particular ethnic background to be an American patriot.
He said Trump as he hinted earlier could also play his role of a “mediator or arbitrator” in appeasing the current flare-up of tensions between India and Pakistan. “For too long, the US has viewed the bilateral relationship only through the prism of Afghanistan. To achieve real progress, the US must make clear its enduring commitment to Pakistan’s stability and economic growth and this is only possible if America plays its role to solve the issue of Kashmir,” adding he said no durable progress is possible until peace restored in South Asia.
Expressing his concern over US tilt towards India, he said termed the relationship between Pakistan and United States as imbalanced and there is dire need to mend the fences between Pakistan and America. He said bilateral relationship between US and Pakistan seems to be driven by giving priority to US national security interests in the region rather those of Pakistan. He said that US has an agreement with India on civil nuclear cooperation, but refuses to offer Pakistan a similar deal, casting doubt on Pakistan’s utility for the US at a time when major combat operations have winded down in Afghanistan.
Mr. Iftikhar Ali Malik said the United States and Pakistan should expand cooperation on the 2013 Joint Action Plan on Trade and Investment as the United States remains Pakistan’s largest bilateral export market and a significant source of foreign direct investment. He said the United States is Pakistan’s largest bilateral trading partner. “It is estimated that at least 500,000 members of the Pakistani diaspora reside in the United States. In 2015, the United States accounted for approximately 16% of Pakistan’s exports, the second largest market behind the European Union, and $1.20 billion of its imports. Bilateral trade between the United States and Pakistan exceeded $5.1 billion in FY 2015. The United States is also one of the top sources of foreign direct investment to Pakistan, with $209 million in 2015,” adding he urged both the leadership of Pakistan and America should work close together to defuse trust deficit. “It would be in the interest of both countries to enhance their trade volume which had been hovering around US $5 billion for the last five years,” adding he said Pakistan would like to further enhance that partnership and build closer economic ties with the US.

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